One of my favorite parts about my husband is his lust for life. He lives wide-eyed and awake, always wanting to taste, touch, smell, and feel everything to the fullest. He has the mentality that if one is good, then two is better. If a little is good, then a lot must be better. This mentality is one of my favorite things about him. It’s also his biggest area of struggle when it comes to discipline.
My husband picked up the habit of smoking a few years back working in the ER. It didn’t bother me too much for awhile because it was infrequent. Though I never was a fan of it, it wasn’t keeping me awake at night.
This way of life (a little is good, but more is better) began to translate over into his intermittent smoking, and before he knew it, he would light up many cigarettes during a given night. I watched in dismay as this continued, trying not to be annoying or obnoxious about, but it started to eat me up inside.
It started subtly, and I would throw out passive comments about his smoking. Rather than sitting down and having a come-to-Jesus about his tobacco use and how I felt, I would instead try to correct his behavior. I made him feel guilt and shame through comments like ‘you know I’m not a fan of kissing smokers’ or ‘do you really need to be smoking the cigarette right now?’
To go real spiritual here, I don’t think the problem was the actual smoking. Yes, I am aware of what the Bible says, and I can quote you many scriptures on how our bodies are temples and living sacrifices and all. But I don’t think the smoking was the problem. The heart of the matter was one of the best parts about my husband, his love, and enthusiasm for life, to taste touch smell, feel and know, in its negative form was translating into him being indulgent and undisciplined.
That begs the question; what is my role as a wife when I see my husband engaging in behaviors that are negative?
Unfortunately, I don’t think that answer to that question is simple but what I do know is that my role as a wife does not entail being my husband’s behavioral analyst.
He doesn’t need that from me, and that can severely damage our relationship when I take on that role.
If I believe that the Spirit is daily renewing my husband and he is walking with Christ, I need to leave that work up to Him. It’s not passive; it’s trusting that the Holy Spirit will work in hearts in ways that man cannot.
The guilt and shame that we can impose on our spouses are powerful and effective. You’ll get the results you want a lot quicker by guilt and shame rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work of refining. And that’s where the tension lies.
This journey was not one that I walked well at all points. There were days when I was impatient, so I resorted to imposing guilt and shaming my husband for smoking because I wanted the behavior to stop. And in those moments, it worked. The smoking stopped temporarily. But it was only the behavior that was affected. There was no deeper change; there was no refining.
Releasing the reigns of control is one of the hardest things wives must do, and it is something that we have to wake up every day and do it over and over again. We have to turn over the reigns of control, trusting in the work of Christ in our spouse’s hearts and walk alongside them as their helpers and cheerleaders rather than being their behavior analyst and correcting their actions.